Last week I was inspired by 20-Nothings, Jessie Rosen, to go on a diet: Suze Orman’s Cash-Only Diet, that is. And with one week down, I did pretty well. I have $20 still left in my wallet. Not sure if it was a result of the spending limitations, or, more likely, sheer exhaustion, but the past week was pretty tame on the social front. I spent more days/evenings at home than I have in a long time. I’m sure this helped the cause.
My first thought when realizing I had $20 left was “Oooo, an extra $20 for next week!” But I felt somewhat guilty thinking that way. Isn’t that cheating the program? I decided to take it a step further, and to save any money that is leftover at the end of each week. Therefore, this morning, I transferred $20 into my savings account and will withdraw $20 less when I hit up the ATM later. What I will do with the savings I am not sure. I did not embark on this project to save — not yet at least — but, rather, help pay down my debt. For now I will let the savings [slowly] accumulate and just enjoy looking at it — that will be my reward. And then if I decide I need something that doesn’t fit into my weekly budget, or fancy buying something for someone special in my life, I’ll have some extra cash, and not be tempted to touch the plastic.
Good plan? I think so.
I was surprised both at how easy and hard week one was.
It was easy because once limited to only the money that was physically in front of me, I realized how little I really needed. An avid debit card user, I was always aware of how much was in my checking account when I swiped, but actually having the money in front of you changes its value. You are forced to physically watch its depletion.
What was hard about it was changing my view of cash. I always saw cash as a perk for getting the little things on a daily basis — egg sandwiches, ice cream, a new bottle of shampoo (actually, I usually swipe at pharmacy stores). There were certain things that warranted cash, and that was all I would use it for. When seeing a wad of cash in my wallet last week, my initial thought was, “That’s a lot of egg bagel sandwiches,” not “Hmmm, I could buy a new pair of hiking sandals with this!” Who pairs for shoes with cash?
Hiking sandals. That brings me to the other hard part: Holding back.
The same as when I went on the Master Cleanse and every item of food looked delicious and left me pining, every piece of merchandise that passed my view enticed me. Coupons and newsletters flooded my inbox with discount yoga classes, sales on shoes and novel gift ideas. I know I would have fought the urge to buy many of these things no matter what, but there were some that I, if possible, I wouldn’t have given a second thought to before typing in those magical numbers.
Some of the hardest things to pass on were:
- $69 for one-month unlimited yoga, in today’s NY Groupon
- $25 for $50 of apparel at the Gap (I hate the Gap since they began designing all their clothing to rip within weeks, but I still have weak moments and believe the Gap owes me after my years of loyalty.)
- $90 all-terrain sandals that would be fantastic for my upcoming cross-country trip and any spontaneous warm-weather hiking we decide to embark on
- $?? for some gift ideas that I have to wait on till my I have a fresh wade of cash in my pocket
On that note, week two starts today. I am a bit more nervous this week. I am going to Rhode Island to visit a friend this weekend and one of our favorite things to do together is eat… and one of my favorite places to shop and blow my budget is supermarkets. This is going to take constraint. But I have the willpower.
Here we go…